If you have a high blood pressure reading, it can be very helpful to understand its effect on your overall health. Being in a high blood pressure group increases your chances of experiencing various health complications, such as stroke, aneurysms and kidney failure. High blood pressure is considered a leading cause of death for almost 500,000 individuals each year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, only about 26% of Americans with high blood pressure have it under control. To maintain a proper level of blood pressure, check it at least twice a year and take steps to lower it when necessary.
What Exactly is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is the pressure that pushes against the walls of arteries while traveling from the heart to other parts of the body. It is normal for a person's blood pressure levels to rise and fall during the day. However, when it consistently stays elevated, it is called high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is measured in two ways, systolic and diastolic. Systolic measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart is beating. Diastolic measures the pressure in your arteries in between your heartbeats. According to the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, high blood pressure is defined as a reading of at least 130/80 mmHg.
How Do Doctors Treat High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure usually can be treated through medications. However, it can also be managed through lifestyle modifications. According to celebrity Dietician Jannelia, living a healthy lifestyle can help lower blood pressure. She said that being active and eating well can help lower it without the need for medication.
While some blood pressure medications can relax the vessels, a healthy lifestyle can help lower blood pressure by preventing nerve activity and reducing the heart's force. Although medications can help lower blood pressure, they can also cause side effects such as dizziness and nausea.
In most cases, these side effects are caused by the use of drugs. Instead, more and more people are looking for natural ways to treat their high blood pressure.
Natural Methods to Lower Your Blood Pressure Without Pills
1. Be More Active
A 2018 meta-analysis revealed that regular exercise is as effective as drugs at lowering blood pressure. For optimal results, experts suggest doing 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day.
When you are physically active, you will lower your blood pressure and lose weight. Doing 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week is as effective as taking medication, and you won't have to deal with bad side effects.
2. Decrease Your Sodium Intake
Due to prepared and processed foods around the world, salt intake is at an all-time high. Because of this, many public health efforts are being aimed at lowering salt levels in food. Too much salt has been linked to heart events and high blood pressure.
Factors that trigger high blood pressure are genetic differences. For some, this can be caused by their bodies' reaction to processed sodium. If your blood pressure is already high, you should cut back on your sodium intake. Instead of just consuming processed food, try mixing fresh herbs and spices instead of salt.
3. Spend More Time Relaxing
Too much stress in your daily life can wreak havoc on your health, including your blood pressure. Performing stress-relieving activities such as yoga, tai chi and meditation can help keep your blood pressure in check. These simple and effective techniques can help lower stress hormones and keep blood pressure in check.
4. Try the DASH Diet
The DASH Diet, which is a part of the Mediterranean diet, is also known as one of the best ways to lower blood pressure without taking medication. The DASH Diet is a combination of low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It limits your daily sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams.
5. Include More Potassium in Your Diet
A high-fat, processed and vegetarian diet is known to contribute to high blood pressure. A daily potassium intake of around 3,500 milligrams is ideal. If you have kidney disease, be careful about how much potassium you consume. It can cause your kidneys to fail to remove it. Always consult with your doctor before making any big dietary changes or if you’re considering supplements.
6. Treat Yourself to Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is high in flavanols, which can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. According to experts, the ideal percentage of cocoa to consume is around 10% each day. Although dark chocolate can't be your main strategy for high blood pressure management, it can be a healthy alternative when you are wanting something sweet.
7. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Drinking too much alcohol is known to raise blood pressure, but having a few drinks a day can help lower it. A study revealed that women who had less than three drinks a day were less prone to high blood pressure. One drink a day is enough and amounts to a 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce wine or 1.5 ounces of spirits.
8. Drink Tea Daily
Drinking three cups of tea a day can help lower blood pressure. A study conducted in 2009 revealed that individuals with high blood pressure were able to lower it by about 7 points. A 2014 meta-analysis revealed that drinking green tea lowers blood pressure over time.
9. Drink Decaf Coffee
A 2016 meta-analysis revealed that up to two cups of coffee a day can increase blood pressure for up to three hours. According to Duke University researcher James Lane, stress can increase blood flow and cause coffee to raise blood pressure levels.
10. Spend Less Time Working
According to a study conducted by Haiou Yang, Ph.D., working overtime can raise your risk of high blood pressure by 17%. Instead of working long hours, try to log off at a regular hour so that you can work out and cook healthy food. People need to allow themselves time to relax each day after a stressful workday.
11. Learn Ways to Manage Your Stress
Stress is a culprit of driving high blood pressure. When stress levels are high, it can trigger a variety of physiological responses in the body, such as a faster heart rate and decreased blood vessels. Being stressed can also lead to various behavioral changes, such as drinking alcohol and eating unhealthful food. Various studies have shown that stress reduction can help lower blood pressure. Listening to relaxing music, taking a hot bath, going for a long walk and reading a book are great ideas for relaxing and managing your stress levels.
12. Stop Smoking
Stopping smoking is one of the best ways to improve your overall health. Smoking can cause temporary spikes in blood pressure and increase your heart rate. The chemicals in tobacco can damage the blood vessels and cause inflammation, which can then increase blood pressure permanently.
Even if you're not a smoker, secondhand smoke can affect your blood vessels. A study found that non-smokers who went to establishments that had smoke-free policies had lower blood pressure than non-smokers who were exposed to secondhand smoke.
13. Get Help For Snoring
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes frequent, loud snoring. It can also be considered a risk factor for high blood pressure. About half of sleep apnea patients have high levels of aldosterone, which can increase blood pressure.
14. Try Fermented Foods
A meta-analysis conducted in 2020 revealed that people suffering from sleep apnea who eat fermented food such as sauerkraut and kimchi have a moderate reduction in their blood pressure. The study noted that the bacteria in this food could help lower blood pressure.
15. Increase Protein Intake
A long-term study conducted in 2014 revealed that people who consumed a lot of protein were less prone to having high blood pressure. Individuals who added regular fiber to their diets saw a 60% reduction in their risk of high blood pressure. Some high protein foods to include in your diet are eggs, fish, nuts, cheese, chickpeas and chicken breast.